Ethereal dream pop, ambient jazz, electroacoustic, low-key indie rock, and more recent favorites.
Each week the global listening community gets bombarded with new releases, reissues and restocks. As music freaks who read these missives and are attuned to the bounty regularly arriving, we love sharing great sounds. Below are some particularly crucial new arrivals, a number of which will soon be available in the In Sheep’s Clothing shop.
A.S.O. – A.S.O
Lewis Day aka Tornado Wallace and Alia Seror-O’Neill’s new project A.S.O. checks all the boxes for us here at In Sheep’s Clothing HQ. Masterfully produced and infinitely dreamy, the album’s opener “Go On” first popped up on Day’s fantastic Bar Part Time mix alongside similarly chilled-out female vocal driven tracks from the ‘90s and ‘00s. While the references to the past are clear: the ethereal dream pop of Cocteau Twins, slow-burning AOR-soul, dubwise downtempo, trip-hop, Julee Cruise, and Portishead, A.S.O.’s sound is uniquely situated for today, coming across as the perfect post/pre-club pop music; a flicker of warmth in a cold, uncertain world.
Gigi Masin and Greg Foat – Dolphin
Two keyboard maestros from different musical worlds, UK jazzman Greg Foat and Italian ambient hero Gigi Masin, meet on this amazing new LP released on Strut. Best known for his 1986 ambient masterpiece Wind and as a member of Music from Memory supergroup Gaussian Curve, Gigi Masin delivers his typically gorgeous drifting atmospheres that work surprisingly well with Foat’s more traditional jazz improvisation. It’s actually a perfect match and the pair’s first, but hopefully not last, landmark recording collaboration together. Highly recommended for fans of Last Resort, Floating Points, Yussef Kamaal, Music from Memory, Sam Wilkes & Sam Gendel.
Ryuichi Sakamoto – 12
Despite living with cancer for almost a decade, the late Ryuichi Sakamoto immersed himself in the creative process to create his masterful final studio album, composing and recording these pieces during the final years of his treatment. He found solace in the studio, and his desire was to be engulfed by sound rather than creating precisely composed pieces. Each track on 12 is named and ordered according to the date of composition, blending resonant piano melodies with subtle yet intricate electroacoustic effects. Moments in 12 at times become truly breathtaking. As Sakamoto plays, the faint sound of his breaths — he was suffering from esophageal cancer — becomes intertwined with the music, directing the meter and pace. A record to play at peak volume and with full focus, 12 is a generous, loving farewell. – Randall
Memotone – How Was Your Life?
Bristol multi-instrumentalist, producer and nature freak Will Yates aka memotone arrives on the always excellent NYC-based label Impatience with a collection of singular balearic ambient, left-field grooves, and “baroque druid folk.” Interestingly, the music on HWYL? was largely inspired by the purchase of the Roland GR-33 guitar synthesizer, an antiquated Y2K era multi-effects processor that allowed Yates to mimic fretless bass, a vast array of percussion, Jon Hassell style woodwinds, and craft uniquely unusual electronic atmospheres.
Hiroshi Tanaka and Yoichi Fuwa – Untitled White Album
A sublimely schizophrenic 1974 folk rock album from the self-proclaimed “heirs to the Beatles,” Hiroshi Tanaka and Yoichi Fuwa’s home-recorded private-press album “Untitled White Album” was originally issued in a run of 100 copies. It’s since become a talisman of Japanese psych-rock, a one-and-done gem recorded in Fuwa’s apartment that grows with each listen. This reissue draws from what label First & Last Records describes as “50 nameless songs.” Release notes from the label, which is focused on private press Japanese acid folk, psych and rock albums from the 1970’s, continue: “Since they could not fit all of the songs on an album they choose 19 of their favorites and self-released their Untitled White Album. The album has since grown a fitting mystic, often referred to simply as an Untitled Album by Unknown Artist.” This double LP reissue features Untitled White Album and 16 previously unreleased songs dubbed Untitled White Album II. Highly recommended. – Randall
J. Albert Meets Will August Park – Flat Earth
Impressionistic piano and freely improvised acoustic instruments meet delicately blunted electronic production on Flat Earth, the debut EP from Ventura-born musician Will August Park and Brooklyn-based electronic artist J. Albert. A textural concoction of ambient electronics, loosely jazzy melodies, and subtle grooves, the five compositions here stretch out with a natural ease that suggests two artists perfectly in sync. We’re definitely looking forward to hearing more from this duo!
The multidisciplinary obsessive Akira Umeda, per his biography, was trained as a historian but later became “a ceramicist, a photographer, a visual artist, a draftsman, a graphic designer, a DJ, a musician, an audio technician, a writer, a researcher… He made forays into a myriad of artistic and academic fields – with a single intention: to achieve a specific objective and promptly exit stage left, as it were.” This singular document explores his music – specifically 42 recordings created between 1988 and 2018 that have been stored in Umeda’s São Paulo home – through four extended collages. The range is astounding: field recordings, ambient electronic pieces, menacing primitive electronic pieces that sound like Reznor-Ross film scores, songs, synthetic jams, prank calls all woven together into fascinating wholes. Released digitally and as a double-LP set, the collection is one of the most beguiling archival releases this year. – Randall
DJ Danifox – Ansiedade
One of our favorite contemporary dance music imprints, PRÍNCIPE delivers the landmark full-length from rising star Daniel Veiga aka Danifox. Crucial and forward-thinking, the Lisbon-based label is “fully dedicated to releasing 100% real contemporary dance music coming out of this city, its suburbs, projects & slums.” Ansiedade expands on Danifox’s signature revolutionary batida, an infectious percussion-driven sound emerging from the city’s African-immigrant community, with jam-style keys, bass, guitar and drums. For more info on this “now” club sound, check out Andy Beta’s deep dive on Lisbon’s Batida Revolution.
Black Duck – Black Duck
A spine-tinglingly great new instrumental album from an accomplished Chicago trio featuring bassist/guitarist Douglas McCombs, guitarist Bill MacKay, and drummer Charles Rumback, Black Duck moves from ethereal ambient guitar pieces to distorted rock jams to evocative explorations that wouldn’t feel out of place if they popped up in an Ennio Morricone score. You can hear echoes of McCombs other band, Tortoise (he’s a cofounder) on “Delivery,” and MacKay’s brilliant solos across the album will hopefully inspire listeners to explore his essential records for Drag City. Make sure to focus on Rumback’s drumming; he’ll take you on a ride. – Randall
Sans Merit – Early Grave
Sans Merit is a new rock project from Griffin James, otherwise known as Francis Inferno Orchestra. The Melbourne-born now Los Angeles-based artist has been steadily moving towards a more guitar-oriented creative process in recent years and we’re absolutely here for it. Befitting of James’ pursuit “of a pure and low-key aesthetic,” ‘Weatherman’ kicks off with a jingle recorded off a passing ice cream truck, a sound that most LA locals will immediately recognize, before diving head-first into fuzzed-out jangle-pop guitars and melancholic baritone vocals. Local hero Damon Eliza Palermo gets back on the drum kit for the first time since his days in cult Thrill Jockey band Mi Ami. Look out for some live dates from this project coming very soon.
The Gondwana Records boss shares five essential favorites. Manchester-based trumpeter, bandleader, and composer Matthew Halsall has a new album coming out tomorrow! Inspired by the breathtaking sea views […]